Sunday, February 3, 2013

Columbia University's Apple Inc./Applegate Scandal Connection--Part 1

William V. Campbell…has been on Apple’s board since 1997…He chairs the Columbia board of trustees…Unless you work in the Valley, you’ve probably never head of Campbell—and he does everything he can to keep it that way…Why doesn’t he want his fingerprints on the many ways he’s influencing Silicon Valley, which include…product development at Apple?...

Campbell has helped build Google’s board (which shares two directors with Apple)…John Sculley, who…left Pepsi to be CEO of Apple and whose brother-in-law was a Campbell buddy, persuaded him to take a job at Apple in 1983…Campbell took over Apple’s software unit Claris…Campbell…is worth at least $200 million, an estimated based in part on his Apple and Intuit stockholdings….

University President Lee Bollinger invited Campbell to join Columbia’s board in 2003—and 2 years later the board chose him as chairman…focused…on Columbia’s ambitious expansion efforts…:”

(Fortune magazine, 7/21/08)

“In the last decade, Apple has become one of the…richest…companies in the world…However, the workers assembling iPhones, iPads and other devices often labor in harsh conditions…Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms…Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products…Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens, Within seven months last year, two explosions at iPad factories, including in Chengdu, killed four people and injured 77. Before those blasts, Apple had been alerted to hazardous conditions inside that Chengdu plant…

“`We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,’ said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. `Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.’

“…Apple was provided with extensive summaries of this article, but the company declined to comment… “

(The New York Times, 1/25/12)

Columbia University’s Apple Inc./Applegate Scandal Connection—Part 1

The Chairman of Columbia University’s Board of Trustees, William Campbell, sits on the board of directors of a transnational corporation, Apple Inc., that has been accused by a coalition of human rights and labor rights groups, led by the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, of not providing a living wage for workers in China, using involuntary labor through a student worker intern program and “enormous greed.” As an “Open Letter” to a colleague on the Apple Inc. board of directors of Columbia University Board of Trustees Chair William CampbellApple Inc. CEO Tim Cook—stated:

“We, the undersigned non-governmental organizations and labour unions, demand that Apple ensure decent working conditions at all its suppliers.

“When confronted with escalating criticism of Apple’s unethical labour practices, you responded, `We care about every worker in our worldwide supply chain. Any accident is deeply troubling, and any issue with working conditions is cause for concern.’ But promises without action are merely empty rhetoric. In fact, none of the workers whom Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) interviewed reported feeling that Apple cares about them. In contrast, they describe their daily routine as work, eat and sleep. They described themselves as machines that repeated the same monotonous motion for thousands times a day….

“In 2010-2011, SACOM issued five research reports that documented labour rights violations at Apple suppliers in China, including Foxconn and Wintek. These violations are systemic problems, not isolated or unrelated incidents. We are frustrated with Apple’s continued failure to implement institutional reforms to protect the rights of workers in its supply chain.

“The size of Apple’s bank account demonstrates the enormous greed and desire for profit of Apple and its executive. On 19 March 2012, Apple announced that it would finally share some of its $100 billion in cash reserves with shareholders. It is regrettable that Apple did not show any intention to share the revenue with its production workers whose labour helped the company become one of the most profitable corporations in the world.

"In early 2012, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s profit margin was as high as 30%, while the profit margin of Foxconn, its main supplier, was a mere 1.5%. Yet, the wages at Apple’s suppliers are so low that the only way for workers to feed their families is through overtime, often well in excess of the legal maximum. In 2011, the monthly basic salary of the workers who produced the iPhones and iPads in China was as low as CNY 850 (USD 134) and CNY 950 (USD 150), respectively. Although Foxconn subsequently implemented a minor wage increase, the company also eliminated subsidies for workers’ food and housing, virtually cancelling any impact of the wage increase….

“In 2011, a typical work shift for Foxconn workers was 10 hours per day, 6-7 days a week in the peak season. Therefore, overtime work could be as high as 100 hours per month, almost 3 times the legal standard. Sometimes, workers must skip their second meal break in order to reach the factory’s production target. Workers reported that overtime work is mandatory and that if they fail to show up for one of the overtime shifts without the permission of the supervisor, it is considered a work stoppage. As punishment, the worker will not be given any overtime work for the following month. The implication of this is that the worker will only be able to earn the base salary, which is not enough for basic survival.

“In the lead-up to the new iPad release in March 2012, some migrant Foxconn workers in Shenzhen complained that they were not able to go back to their hometown for the Chinese New Year holiday – often their only opportunity each year to visit family in their home villages. They were only permitted five days of vacation, barely enough for travel time alone, making it impossible to go home to see their families…

“In 2009, nearly 140 workers at the Wintek factory in China were poisoned by n-hexane, a chemical used for cleaning the touchscreens of iPhones. Some of the victims were hospitalized for more than nine months due to nerve damage…. Besides occupational illness, industrial injuries at Apple suppliers are equally appalling. In May 2011, a deadly explosion occurred in the polishing department at Foxconn’s plant in Chengdu, killing four workers and injuring 18. Seven months later, another blast occurred at another Apple supplier, Riteng Computer Accessory in Shanghai. 59 workers were injured and several suffered facial disfigurement and broken bones as a result. Both explosions were triggered by the excessive build-up of combustible aluminium dust in the air on the shop floor. The explosion at Foxconn could have been prevented, as SACOM had publicly reported on the problem of aluminium dust two weeks before the tragedy. Yet, Apple ignored SACOM’s warning. Tragically, Apple refused to take action following the first explosion, resulting in the accumulation of aluminium dust and subsequent explosion in Riteng…

We strongly demand that Apple:

1. Provide a living wage for all workers so they do not have to work excessive overtime hours in order to support themselves and their families;

2. End the use of involuntary labour that occurs through the student worker intern program;

3. Conduct labour rights training for workers, including training on occupational health and safety;

4. Facilitate the formation of a genuine trade union through democratic election;

5. Compensate victims of non-compliance with the Apple code of conduct….”

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